In the fishing world, there’s only one man known by three initials. And it’s KVD.
If you’re reading this, you probably know all about the records he holds, the wins he’s posted, the Bassmaster Classic championships and the Angler of the Year titles. But I want to tell you a little about the guy.
When new partners ask me what makes a good relationship between a brand and a professional angler, KVD always tops the list of who I talk about. He’s the complete package….phenomenal fisherman, great marketer, uber conscientious colleague and most importantly, a fine man with a fine family.
His fishing skills are legendary. He fishes fast. Really fast. Back in the 2000’s when I was still working in TV production, I remember we counted his casts one time when he was fishing an Elite event. VanDam averaged a cast every 10 seconds, which translates into 360 casts per hour, or more than 2,500 casts a day. That’s a whole lot of chunking and winding.
He’s such a legendary angler that in the 2000’s he helped develop the Sexy Shad and set off a color craze that’s still going strong today.
As a marketer, he knows how to talk about product features naturally and you never, ever feel like he’s trying to sell you on something. He just knows his equipment so well. He knows what the average angler is concerned about and can talk to that guy in a way that makes him want to rush out to Bass Pro Shops and run up his credit card.
As big a star as he is in the sport of bass fishing, he is humble and considerate. We always know if we need to a good sound byte we can ask Kevin. He’s never bothered by the request, no matter how busy he is. He will arrive early or stay late to accommodate people who need him. There have been many times that I have asked him for a donation of some kind for a fund-raiser, and he has never hesitated.
Part of the reason he can keep all of these high-level qualities is because of his wife, Sherry. She manages his life, his career and his lunch box. Like so many BASS wives, she is the secret sauce to his success. She’s a great businesswoman, but also a caring friend. She has a knack for remembering what’s important to people and always finds a way to ask about the things they care about. She makes you feel special. They both do actually.
The VanDams are the kind of people that its hard not to envy. I’ve been to Christmas parties at their home in Kalamazoo and seen their whole family when there was no else looking. With this fam, what you see is what you get. There is no difference from the media persona and real life.
The Strike King Sexy Shad
When I asked Kevin to collaborate with me on my lure painting series, there was no hesitation in his answer. As busy as they are, both he and Sherry took the time to make sure I had what I needed. And it seemed important to Kevin to take that time. He just doesn’t half-do anything. He’s always 200%.
So most anglers and fishing fans hear that name, those three initials… and think of all the fishing accomplishments. But what I think of when I hear “KVD” is his amazing family. What an incredible, close group of superior human beings.
And also Kevin’s true passion for the sport of fishing that I can’t imagine will ever end.